Fueling the Potential for Lesotho’s Trout Farming

Fresh Lesotho Mountain Trout updated... - Fresh Lesotho Mountain ...
Fresh Lesotho Mountain, Photo Courtesy Facebook

“It seems that the old adage, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life’ should be altered to include ‘teach a man to farm fish and you create prosperity for all’.” Alma Viviers. An investment into SanLei, a leading aquaculture company in Lesotho is about to make all the difference in Africa’s aquaculture industry. The transaction is set to position SanLei to accelerate its expansion that is meant to make it the largest trout operator of its kind in Africa, with the benefit of a strong Lesotho-based shareholder in its capital structure. The company supplies trout to regional and offshore export markets, creates employment opportunities (currently sustaining 90 jobs), and contributes to food security in Lesotho. With the planned expansion over the next two or three years, the job creation is expected to double.

The capital restructuring of SanLei was undertaken by One Thousand and One Voices (1K1V), a private family capital fund backed exclusively by industry-leading families largely from the USA. Part of the transaction involved Mergence Investment Managers (Lesotho) (Pty) Ltd acquiring a significant minority interest in SanLei on behalf of Basotho, its Lesotho pension fund client.

Katse Dam, Lesotho, Photo Courtesy: Motebong Lodge

This announcement coincides with the recent release of the Ocean and Coastal Fishing and Fish Farming South Africa 2020 Report. The report notes that with natural fish resources in decline and growing demand for fish, aquaculture is becoming increasingly important as the sector is also vital for job creation and food security. Kasief Isaacs, the joint head of Unlisted Investment of Mergence Investment Managers, points out that 1K1V’s three-dimensional capital of its global investors (that leverages their relational capital, intellectual capital and financial capital for the benefit of its investee companies), coupled with a strong local shareholder, could further accelerate international opportunities for SanLei, thus benefiting the Kingdom of Lesotho and its people.

SanLei is located on the shores of the Katse Dam in the remote highlands of Lesotho, a site known for its deep, pristine waters and highly favourable environment for growing premium trout.“SanLei”, loosely translated from Japanese, means ‘where the mountains meet the sky’. It is popular for sushi quality trout production in the breath-taking Kingdom of Lesotho, a country commonly considered “the roof of Africa”.

Dating back, 1K1V reported in 2017 that SanLei had secured a strategic and distribution agreement with CGC Japan Co. Ltd. which had more than 4,000 stores and collective revenues of more than $40.5 billion, making it Japan’s largest joint procurement supermarket chain. It was that year that 1K1V first invested in Lesotho, adding to its two other agribusiness portfolio investments in Sub-Saharan Africa (Redsun Dried Fruit & Nuts and Beefmaster). The agreement allowed CGC to exclusively sell and market SanLei trout in Japan under its flagship “Shizen No Ashiato” or ‘Trace of Nature’ banner.

It looks like there’s potential in the trout market; whoever has a keen eye will pick it out and take advantage.

Written By Ida Mwangi
@Noemie(Twitter) 
@Ida Mwangi (Linkedln)